Can WWE possibly top the amazing ending to NIGHT ONE – the Boneyard Match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles, maybe the greatest fight in the history of WrestleMania – with the second night of action? We’re gonna find out as the Showcase of the Immortals goes into uncharted territory – a second night of action from an empty WWE Performance Center down in Florida!
Stephanie McMahon kicks us off once again leads us to the same introduction video we got last night. It was funny the first time around, but I’m a little disappointed they didn’t give us a different video for night two. The video is still pretty good, though.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley (c) – After winning the 2020 women’s Royal Rumble in January, Flair opted not to challenge for the women’s championship from Raw or Friday Night SmackDown!, instead going after the title from WWE’s third brand, NXT. It’s a title she held before she was called up to the main roster, and it’s still a little odd that Flair would go for the lesser of the three belts. Much like the Raw Women’s Championship match during night one, Ripley and Flair had a match that worked well even without the crowd noise, which a lot of the men’s matches couldn’t handle. Flair spent the match destroying the left knee of the champion, putting Ripley at a disadvantage. The match went maybe a little too long, as the women lost the momentum of the story they built early in the match. But they finally got to the end game – Flair cinching on the Figure-8 and forcing Ripley to submit. Given how much WWE built up the NXT brand over the last few months, it’s a little odd to have the two big NXT stars on the show – Shayna Baszler and Rhea Ripley – lose, but Fliar having the NXT Women’s Championship gives the Wednesday night show some more star power.
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley – Having not watched WWE regularly in a while, I think the biggest thing in this match is that Lana dropped the ridiculous Russian accent. I have no real reason to care about this match otherwise. Lana costs Lashley the match when she tells him to spear Black and Black nails him with a kick. Fine for what it was but nothing memorable.
Our host Rob Gronkowski vows to win the 24/7 Title by the end of the night, after his pal Mojo Rawley beat R-Truth for the belt in Night One. So many commercials these two nights.
Dolph Ziggler vs. Otis – The romance between Otis and Mandy Rose is maybe the greatest love story of all time, and Ziggler is cast perfectly as the villainous heartbreaker. I’m surprised they didn’t make this a mixed tag team match after Rose and her best friend Sonya Deville had a falling out over Deville tricking Otis into missing their Valentine’s Day date. Ziggler bounces around like a pinball for Otis, which is just what he should do here. Mandy Rose comes in to hit Ziggler low, leading up to the Caterpillar and the win for Otis. And he even gets the girl! It’s like WRESTLEMANIA VII with Randy Savage and Elizabeth all over again!
Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton – I despise Last Man Standing matches under normal circumstances, since forcing someone to answer a 10-count always kills the momentum of a match. A crowd can save a Last Man Standing match if they’re hot. But we don’t have that here. But we do have a returning Hall of Famer in Edge and a future Hall of Famer in Orton, so the match has a chance. And Orton starts it all off by hitting an RKO FROM OUTTA NOWHERE after being disguised as a cameraman. And another RKO right after the bell rings. It’s just one 10-count after another to start as Edge crawls round the floor to help himself up. The match eventually evens up a bit as the former tag team partners head to the gym area of the Performance Center, but the damage was done at the start of the match. It was probably a mistake to put this on Night Two, after everyone had seen the Boneyard Match between Styles and the Undertaker. While it was clearly thematically different, there’s not a whole lot to differentiate the two match stips, and the Boneyard Match blew this out of the water. It was nice to get a tour of the WWE Performance Center, though. I liked the chairs in the conference room. They look comfy. After a ridiculously long fight all over the Performance Center, Edge and Orton end up on top of a production truck. The Rated R Superstar knocks Orton out with a sleeper hold and cries before hitting his former partner with a con-chair-to before finally allowing the ref to count to 10. What a needlessly long match.
Gronk makes good on his promise to win the 24/7 Title and then runs out of the building. Who needs him, anyway?
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: Austin Theory and Angel Garza vs. The Street Profits (c) – Wait, who? All four men are making their WrestleMania debuts and it may also be the first time I’ve seen any of these guys wrestle. Theory and Garza have only been a team for a week, as Theory is subbing for an inured United States Champion Andrade. The match is very energetic and Montez Ford and Angelo Dawkins are very entertaining. A quick, but fun, match as all four guys were motivated and working to impress. Theory had Dawkins pinned, but Ford hit him with a frog splash, allowing Dawkins to get the win. And afterwards, we get a run-in from NXT’s Bianca Bellaire, who takes out Garza and Theory’s manager Zelina Vega.
SmackDown! Women’s Championship Five-Way Elimination Match: Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina vs. Naomi vs. Bayley (c) – Why WWE didn’t want to go with a straight-up match between Bayley and her best friend Sasha is beyond me, but at least Naomi, Lacey Evans and Tamina get a spot on the card. Clearly, the two best friends and whether they’ll still be allied by the end of the night is the biggest story of the match. Tamina is out first after the other four women gang up on her with moves off the ropes. Next, Banks eliminates Naomi with the Banks Statement. Before the pair can eliminate Evans, though, Bayley accidentally knocks Banks out with a knee against the turnbuckle, and the best friends start to argue. The argument leads to Evans knocking Banks out and pinning her, which is a bit a surprise. Despite the tension, Banks comes back to the ring to help Bayley retain the championship. Once this feud kicks off in earnest, it’s gonna be pretty good. Good match and, as always when Bayley gets her hand raised, the right woman won.
Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. The Fiend – We start with Cena being magically transported from the ring to The Firefly Fun House set, so Cena can meet The Fiend in their chosen battleground. Bray Wyatt told Cena he’d be facing his toughest opponent yet -himself. This is obviously going to be the spiritual successor to Night One’s Boneyard Match, with a more absurdist bent. We go from a parody of Cena’s first match against Kurt Angle to a Saturday Night’s Main Event-style promo. Doctor of Thuganomics Cena is up next, and Cena’s increasing annoyance is actually fun as the segment turns into an afterschool special. It’s compelling for different reasons than the Boneyard Match, as Wyatt takes an extended segment to play mind games and reveal that losing to Cena at WrestleMania XXX was his greatest failure. The Fiend finally appears after an nWo riff, hitting Cena with Sister Abigail and then locking in the mandible claw as Bray Wyatt counts the three. It was weird, it was wacky and it hit all the right notes for me. There’s no way that this weirdness happens if WWE had an audience here, and I’m pretty happy with it.
WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar (c) – I’ve been looking forward to this since McIntyre won the Royal Rumble in January. Since McIntyre came back to WWE, he’s had the look of a guy who could carry the company. More importantly, he has the look of someone who could give the Beast Incarnate a run for his money. Lesnar takes an early advantage, taking McIntyre to Suplex City, but McIntyre kicks out of a series of F5s, frustrating the champion. ”He’s good! He’s really good! Hit him again!” Lesnar’s advocate Paul Heyman yells from ringside. McIntyre responds with three Claymore kicks in succession and gets a relatively quick win to prove me right. This would have been awesome with 80,000 fans cheering. The lack of an audience really hurts a match that’s almost nothing but finishing moves. But the end result was right, at least.
Night Two was, I think, more solid than the first night. The matches felt less out of place in an empty arena, even if there were a couple of clunkers.
Where does WWE go from here, though? The company announced the Money in the Bank event, set for May 10, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to run a show in an arena by then. Do we get another Performance Center show? Maybe they can do a whole card at the Boneyard. Whatever happens next, the two-night WrestleMania was a lot of fun, and I can only hope they try to follow this formula again sometime.